Getting calcium when you’re pregnant is extremely important for a baby’s development.
Fetuses draw from all the food you eat, so the amount of calcium in your diet dictates their rate of cardiovascular, skeletal, and neurological growth. You should be getting about 1,000 mg of calcium per day, which is equivalent to 3 or 4 servings of dairy.
How does Calcium help during pregnancy?
As a fetus’ body develops, calcium is essential for strong bones and a healthy heart. Babies take calcium from mothers’ bones if there is an insufficient amount in the food stream, so a well-rounded diet is particularly important to minimize risk for both mom and child. It is a fundamental part of your diet that while you’re pregnant, you have an intrinsic ability to absorb more calcium from food, particularly in the second half of pregnancy when bone development is rapid. Calcium also helps prevent bone damage while breastfeeding, when you need extra calcium for breast milk and your body is producing less estrogen to protect your bones. Ample calcium during pregnancy is also proven to help protect you against osteoporosis later in life.
What are some good sources of calcium?
- Yogurt: Yogurt is an excellent source of calcium. 8 ounces of fruit yogurt satisfies about ⅓ of your daily calcium requirement. While Greek yogurt is a great way to get extra protein in your diet, it delivers less calcium than regular yogurt.
- Milk: 8 ounces of skim milk has 300 mg of calcium, so drink it plain or add it to your morning cereal!
- Cheese: Most cheeses are excellent sources of calcium. Parmesan cheese has the most, whereas softer cheeses tend to have less.
- Almonds: Of all the nuts, almonds are the highest in calcium. An ounce of almonds, or about 22 nuts, delivers 8% of the recommended daily intake (RDI).
- Greens: Spinach, broccoli, and cabbage are packed with calcium and also fulfill your veggie requirement!
- Fortified Drinks: Start your day with a tall glass of orange juice, preferably a “calcium-fortified” version.
The calcium in dairy products is more easily absorbed by your body than when it comes from plant sources. Along with calcium, it’s important to ensure you’re getting the daily recommendation of Vitamin D as well, as calcium is dependent upon sufficient Vitamin D for the best absorption possible. However, keep in mind that your body can’t absorb all that calcium at once and it’s best to spread your intake throughout the day.